The holy has been defined existentially and sociologically, and churches too often allow their expectations regarding holiness to be prompted by existential aspirations or the social mores of the Christian community. Perhaps it is not surprising that many view holiness as accidental or expendable, even as a legalistic and conformist posture opposed to the freedom of the gospel. But sanctification is one of the gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so we must think about the way in which he makes his redeemed holy as a grace. Sanctification, the latest volume in the New Studies in Dogmatics series, patiently defines holiness in theological terms by tending to its connections with core Christian doctrines such as the character of God, the nature of creation, and the covenantal shape of life with God. It then considers the ways in which the gospel of Jesus not only prompt us to holy action but provides holiness as one of its blessings. Finally, it attends to the ways in which the gift of sanctification relates to various human instruments and means, so that we can appreciate its connection to human nature, creaturely responsibility, and the pedagogy of exemplars and of law. Sanctification offers a Christ-centered account of sanctification by viewing the doctrine within its wider canonical and creedal context, hoping to bring its distinctly Christian definition and thoroughly gracious character into greater relief.
“Therefore, holiness is not only a task but also a gift. It is not only a calling but also a reality evoked by God’s declaration. It is not only the vocation of the Christian, but it is also integral to the inheritance enjoyed in Christ. Holiness is an expectation from us as well as a startling result of God’s election of us.” (Page 29)
“work out your own salvation.’ In these words, perseverance or endurance is commended” (Page 233)
“Thus, all creaturely holiness is communicated holiness in the same way that creaturely life is communicated life” (Page 87)
“My suggestion is that an evangelical account of the holy requires a steady focus upon the holiness of God, that is, the holiness of the inner triune life, so that its communication to creatures can be registered as truly gracious, that is, miraculous and free. In addition, to appreciate the christological context of the holy and of the ethical life requires attention not only to the past tense of the gospel but also to its present and future tenses, which are the continuing ministry of the risen Christ by his Spirit and its promised completion in glory.” (Page 23)
“Divine action, specifically as it takes shape through the grace of the incarnate Son, will be the only realm within which such endurance appears. Divine action will be the instrument by which such perseverance fights on. Here Christ’s grace and the enduring grit of human perseverance find harmonious depiction.” (Page 235)
R. Michael Allen teaches systematic (or dogmatic) theology and theological ethics as a way to train students to delight in the study of God’s mighty deeds (Psalm 111:2). He hopes that integrated study of Bible and theology will help students prepare for faithful ministry in the local church by considering our worship and witness in light of God’s Word. He is especially interested in how Christian doctrine relates to other theological disciplines: biblical theology, historical theology, and moral theology. He grew up in both the South and in South Florida as the son of a Presbyterian pastor. He is presently a candidate for ordination as a teaching elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
In addition to his work in the seminary, he enjoys serving in local churches: teaching classes for children and adults, preaching, and working in the nursery. Prior to joining the faculty at Knox, he taught undergraduate and graduate students at Wheaton College for two years. He has also been active in the American Academy of Religion, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Society of Biblical Literature.